David Bowie is not a name that’s synonymous with litigation – excepting a copyright spat with 90s rapper Vanilla Ice over the bass line to Ice Ice Baby that never quite made it to court – but the title of his new single ‘Where Are We Now’ (look, we had to shoehorn that in) provides a perfect segue to look at The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2013, and how the commercial courts will fare in the year ahead.
So, where are we now? Well, if 2012 was characterised by lucrative fights between Russians, 2013 looks to be a little less one-sided, with a few strands of litigation jostling for dominance. Claims against professional advisers will grab some headlines, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and legacy Herbert Smith defending a claim from London Underground, Collyer Bristow set to answer claims that it deceived Rangers FC on businessman Craig Whyte’s takeover of the club, and Deloitte explaining how it advised the Phoenix Four during the dying days of MG Rover.
Top-flight banking barristers will also get the chance to show off their advocate chops, as Barclays faces the first major Libor mis-selling case and RBS faces a multimillion pound mis-selling claim from Torre Asset Funding.
Wealthy private clients will also play at least some role in the courts this year, as Lakshmi Mittal faces a multi-million pound claim from former associate Manmohan Varma, and F1 magnate Bernie Ecclestone faces corruption charges brought from Germany to London. Conditional Fee Arrangements – like the one used by Addleshaw Goddard when representing Boris Berezovsky against Roman Abramovich – will no doubt feature, too, with RPC agreeing to take on Varma’s case against Mittal under such a deal.
2013 looks set to have a different litigation face to 2012, but at first glance the calibre of cases reaching the courts suggests that these are still Golden Years in which to be an elite silk.
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